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Guiomar Novaes (1895 - 1979)

Novaes, the seventeenth of nineteen children, was already playing the piano at the age of four. At seven she had lessons with Luigi Chiafarelli, a pupil of Busoni. At her debut, given when she was eleven, she played an extremely difficult work by Gottschalk, the Hymne national brésilien (Grande fantaisie triomphale) Op. 69, a sort of Lisztian paraphrase on the Brazilian national anthem. The Brazilian government gave her a grant to study in Europe and at Chiafarelli’s suggestion she went to the Paris Conservatoire to study with Isidor Philipp. Members of the jury for her entrance examination included Debussy, Fauré and Moszkowski for whom she played Schumann’s Carnaval Op. 9, Liszt’s ‘Paganini’ Étude in E major and Chopin’s Ballade in A flat Op. 47. Debussy said at the time, ‘She has all the right qualities for a great artist… the power of complete inner concentration which is the characteristic so rare in artists.’ After study with Philipp she won a premier prix from the Conservatoire when she was fifteen and this was a springboard for a touring career taking her to England, Italy, Germany and Switzerland.




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